American men beat Russia; clinch a spot in FIVB world volleyball league final


The United States men's national volleyball team is one step closer to defending its FIVB World League championship after knocking off host Russia, 25-23, 19-25, 25-23, 25-18, Sunday.

The U.S. officially clinched its berth in the Final Six when Poland beat host Iran in four sets on Sunday.

Kerri Walsh Jennings/USA volleyball
The Americans travel to Poland, which still needs one more victory (or an Iranian loss) to advance, next weekend for the final two regular-season matches.

The U.S. remains atop the Pool B standings (23 point), with the Polish (20) in second, ahead of Iran (15).

The Americans are looking to become the first team to win back-to-back title since Brazil did it in 2009-10.

The winless Russians made it tough for the Americans, pushing them to the brink through the first three sets.

Team USA began to take control of the match midway though the fourth set, scoring five straight to open a 13-9 advantage. The Americans never trailed again.

The U.S. recorded 11 points on blocks. Micah Christenson led the way with four.

Beach volleyball

Stanford grad Kerri Walsh Jennings has won three Olympic gold medals and three FIVB World titles. She's been named FIVB Most Outstanding Player in the world four times, including the past three years. She has three children.

And she's had four shoulder surgeries on her right shoulder. On May 27, she dislocated that shoulder in a match in Moscow. She's competing in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in the Netherlands with partner April Ross.

The third-seeded Walsh Jennings and Ross opened pool play Saturday with a 21-13, 22-20 victory over the Netherlands Rimke Braakman and Jolien Sinnema.

"My shoulder is feeling great," said Walsh Jennings. "Stronger every day. I'm feeling prepared and determined going into the World Championships. This break has served a huge purpose and we've most definitely taken advantage of it."

==B Men's water polo

The USA men's senior national team lost to Croatia, 11-6, Saturday in the semifinal round of the FINA World League Super Final in Bergamo, Italy.

The loss sends Team USA to the bronze medal match on Sunday and ends a chance for 2016 Olympic Games qualification from this competition.

Stanford grad Tony Azevedo scored twice and recent Cardinal grad Alex Bowen added a goal.

The United States will take on Brazil for third place on Sunday.

By reaching the bronze medal match, Team USA has a chance for its first Super Final medal since 2008 when it earned silver.

-- Charlie Snyder/USA volleyball contributed to this report.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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